Schizophrenia - a biochemical problem
I do not get much opportunity to treat schizophrenia because patients are whisked off by the psychiatrists and brain washed into believing that drugs are the only answer. Certainly drugs work well to control the acute symptoms, but there is so much in the nutritional literature about schizophrenia that there are some things which must be tried in all cases.
Schizophrenia is a clinical picture, i.e. a group of symptoms which may have many causes. Depression and Anxiety are commonly found as a prelude to and accompanying schizophrenia. If these symptoms are also tackled by the ecological approach, then there is great potential to do good. Schizophrenics are natural addicts and, indeed, relapses are often triggered by addiction. By this I do not just mean recreational drugs. I also mean sugar and refined carbohydrates. See Hypoglycaemia - the full story. Poor or disordered ability to think clearly is often a feature and sufferers may benefit from interventions for Brain fog - poor memory, difficulty thinking clearly etc
Treatment of schizophrenia
What makes it clear to me that schizophrenia is a biochemical disorder is a skin test. When ordinary people take niacin, it makes them flush. 43% of schizophrenics do not. A test has been developed to demonstrate this - the skin flush test - and is one of the first to demonstrate a biochemical defect in schizophrenics, i.e. this is a physical not a mental illness, affecting the whole body, not just the brain. Furthermore, first degree relatives may have minor abnormalities of this test. The problem is in the cell membranes. The cause of this difference is thought to be due to essential fatty acids.
- The general approach to maintaining and restoring good health. This may be all that is necessary to achieve a cure. The trouble is carbohydrate and other addictions. These make people high and for many it is fun being high!
- Tackle associated problems of Anxiety and Depression. Schizophrenics are often supersensitive characters.
- Niacin - vitamin B3. During the 1920s and 1930s, schizophrenics were diagnosed as suffering from pellagra (vitamin B3 deficiency) and treated with niacin and recovered. The psychiatric symptoms of vitamin B3 deficiency are identical to schizophrenia. I would start all patients on niacinamide 500mgs three times daily and possibly more. Be aware that high doses can cause liver problems but this is nearly always accompanied by feeling nauseous.
- Essential fatty acids. Again in high doses. I would use a liquid preparation such as Nutri Brainsharp Eskimo oil 10ml twice daily together with coconut oil 20ml twice daily. Make sure any fish oils used have been filtered to get rid of organochlorines and mercury residues.
- Antioxidants. Blood tests consistently show low anti-oxidant status and patients are improved by taking antioxidants.
- Deficiencies of zinc and B6 are very common and there are many reports in the nutritional literature of supplements being helpful. A useful functional test of zinc and B6 is urinary kryptopyrroles.
- Tackle the psychological and social complications.
- Hypothyroidism is common and often a side effects of prescribed drugs, especially lithium.
- B vitamins - functional blood profile
- Essential fatty acid profile
- Thyroid profile: free T3, free T4 and TSH
- Antioxidant status profile
- Stone Age Diet - this is a diet which we all should follow. More often I now prescribe the ketogenic diet - please see Ketogenic diet - the practical details and My book The PK Cookbook - Go Paleo-ketogenic and get the best of both worlds.
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